Europe 267: Gothic–Herulian Invasion of Greece

Political map of Europe & the Mediterranean on 21 Oct 267 (The Crisis of the Third Century: Gothic–Herulian Invasion of Greece), showing the following events: Last Gallienus–Postumus War; Odaenathus’ Second Persian Campaign; Gothic–Herulian Invasion of Greece; Assassination of Odaenathus.

Gallienus attempted to retake Gaul from Postumus again in 265, but was forced to withdraw by 267 when the Goths, accompanied by the Heruli and other tribes, launched their largest invasion of the Roman Empire to date. Marching and sailing south down the Black Sea coast, they raided the Aegean before invading Greece and sacking Athens.


Gallic Empire

The rival Roman regime led by Postumus and his successors in Gaul (260–274) is often referred to as the Gallic Empire by modern historians. This term has no real historical basis; identity-wise, the Gallic emperors were simply Roman usurpers who successfully held out in Gaul for 14 years, but lacked the strength to take Rome.

Palmyrene Empire

The region controlled by the Palmyrene queen Zenobia in the name of her son Vaballathus (267–273) is often called the Palmyrene Empire by modern historians. This term was not used at the time and, despite her expansionism, Zenobia continued to officially recognize the authority of Rome—with her son as a king under the Roman emperor—up until Aurelian’s move against her domain in late 271. After this, Zenobia openly rebelled, declaring Vaballathus emperor and herself an empress, but here she was probably acting as a usurper challenging Aurelian rather than a secessionist attempting to create an independent empire.

Main Events

265–267? Last Gallienus–Postumus War

In 265 Gallienus launched a renewed attack on Postumus in Gaul. Almost nothing is known about this war except that Gallienus was eventually forced to withdraw, possibly to deal with the Gothic–Herulian invasion of Greece in 267, although Postumus issued coins celebrating victory at the end of 265. Even so, Postumus was forced to debase his coinage in 268, leading some historians to theorize that his Spanish silver mines had been lost or damaged in the wikipedia

266–267 Odaenathus’ Second Persian Campaign

In 266, with the likely backing of Gallienus, Odaenathus launched a second invasion of the Persian Empire. He reached as far as Ctesiphon, and according to some sources captured it. However, news of the Gothic and Heruli invasions in the Aegean persuaded him to end the campaign and march for wikipedia

267 Gothic–Herulian Invasion of Greece

In 267 the Goths, Heruli, and other tribes moved down the western coast of the Black Sea in huge numbers by land and sea, attempting to take Byzantium and Cyzicus. When this offensive was broken up by the Roman navy, the invaders split into groups, with the Goths attacking Macedonia, the Heruli landing in Achaea, and both parties raiding the Greek islands. The Heruli were particularly successful, sacking Athens, Corinth, and Sparta despite recently constructed city wikipedia

267 Assassination of Odaenathus

In 267 Odaenathus of Palmyra and his eldest son Herodes were murdered in the East, possibly at Emesa, by his nephew Maeonius. The dispute was said to have been started by a slight at a hunt. Odaenathus was officially succeeded by his prepubescent son Vaballathus, but Vaballathus’ mother, Odaenathus’ widow Zenobia, immediately assumed wikipedia